Groundwater, reservoir levels remain at historic lows, but rainwater and flooding should help
March 18, 2023 at 17:30
In neighboring Nevada, flood warnings were in effect and rushing water prompted some evacuations overnight in one of Arizona's tourist towns.
Elsewhere, NOAA's forecast warned of elevated flood risks from heavy snowpack this spring in the upper Midwest along the Mississippi River from Minnesota south to Missouri.
Groundwater and reservoir storage levels — which take much longer to bounce back — remain at historic lows.
And it's unlikely that water managers will have enough wiggle room to wind back the clock on proposals for limiting water use.
The reservoirs are used to manage Colorado River water deliveries to 40 million people in seven U.S. states and Mexico.
How much it rises will depend on soil moisture levels, future precipitation, temperatures and evaporation losses.
Ranchers in the arid state already are planning for another dry year, and some residents are still reeling from a historic wildfire season.
That’s notable given that over the last decade, only two years — 2017 and 2019 — had snowpack above the median.
Tony Caligiuri, president of the preservation group Colorado Open Lands, said all the recent precipitation shouldn't derail work to recharge groundwater supplies.
One of North America's longest rivers, the Rio Grande and its reservoirs have been struggling due to meager snowpack, long-term drought and constant demands.
Colorado Open Lands reached an agreement with a farmer to retire his land and stop irrigating roughly 1,000 acres.
"So you just can’t stick your head in the sand just because you’re having one good wet year."